First Official Shot From The Avengers

27 04 2011

The new Thor film may only be a matter of days old at this stage, but Marvel Studios aren’t resting on their metaphorical laurels and are already cranking up the pr for next year’s Avengers flick. Here’s the first official shot…

I duno about you, but I’d hate to be the one who has to help the Hulk squeeze into that chair…

As expected-the new Thor film is all kinds of awesome.The casting is impeccable, Branagh gives us as many laughs as there are explosions, the Easter Eggs are uber-cool and I was pleased to see Joe Michael Straczynski (who wrote my all-time favourite Thor run) help out with the story.

For those keeping score on these kinda things, I opted to wear my Latveria t-shirt to the screening on Monday, for obvious (or not, as the case may be…) reasons.

Dan Sartain-Legacy Of Hospitality

20 04 2011

Eagle-eyed readers of my Twitter may recall that yesterday I was sent a free keg of beer. Well, today my postie has once again pulled out all the stops as he has delivered me the new Dan Sartain album ‘Legacy Of Hospitality’ and accompanying film (courtesy of the good people at One Little Indian).

I have to say I’m really looking forward to watching the movie and the free 3D glasses are a nice touch too! At the moment the so-called Skinny Man is on tour and Irish readers can catch him at the Crane Lane Theatre, Cork on April 27, McHugh’s in Belfast on April 28 and the Button Factory in Dublin on April 29. He’s also playing a bunch of dates around Europe too. ‘Legacy Of Hospitality’ is out on April 25.

If you’ve never seen him before you should make sure to check him out. Here’s a reprint of my review of his last album that ran in AU to get you in the mood.


Dan Sartain

Dan Sartain Lives (One Little Indian)

After enduring an apparent lifetime to hear some new material from Dan Sartain (ok, it was four years) the Alabama-based riff-slamma finally unleashes his knowingly-titled third record ‘Dan Sartain Lives’ this month and while he doesn’t change the formula too much, it’s an opus of effortlessly cool proportions. Perhaps the best thing about the album though, is the fact that it’s so devoted to the retro sound it could have been recorded in any decade from the 50s onwards. Hell, you can almost hear the valve amps wheeze with exhaustion during the rockabilly stomp of ‘Atheist Funeral’ and ‘Those Thoughts.’ However, Sartain is far from being a one trick pony. The brooding waltz of ‘Bad Things Will Happen’ is both sexual and sinister and the canny lyrics of ‘Yes Man’ assert that the musician has little time for being “cool” or in fashion and both are definite highlights on an album that is a more than welcome addition to his rapidly growing legend. While some folk might say his sound is cliché, we like to think of it as classic.


Download: ‘Atheist Funeral, ‘Bohemian Grove,’ ‘Bad Things Will Happen’

For Fans Of: The Night Marchers, Link Wray, El Vez

Anna Calvi Review

7 04 2011

Earlier this year I reviewed the debut album from Anna Calvi for Hot Press and if you love Nick Cave and Roy Orbison (and let’s face, who doesn’t?) you should check it out. Here’s the review.

Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi (Domino)

Four out of five

By no means an immediate record, hotly tipped songstress Anna Calvi’s debut is a subtle slab of wax that took three years to make from start to finish. Having already won over the likes of Brian Eno, Nick Cave and Interpol with her dark laments, the Londoner’s sound lies somewhere in between Jeff Buckley and PJ Harvey, but after repeated listens, Ennio Morricone and Diamanda Galas influences (as well as the more malevolent side of 50s rock ‘n’ roll) also come to the fore in her bewitching brew.

 ‘Desire’ is a wide-screen, epic tune that sizzles from start to finish, ‘Suzanne And I’ is a belter of a song that really shows off her deep croon and ‘Blackout’ is as menacing as it is mesmerizing. For all of the silver screen sparkle of ‘Desire’ though, she does almost fall off the tightrope with the dull as dishwater album opener ‘Rider To The Sea’ and ‘Morning Light’ is a little too maudlin for this reviewer. On the whole though, Calvi’s self-titled debut is a moody masterpiece that manages to sound much more than the sum of its parts and if it’s good enough for old Nick, it’s good enough for the rest of us.

Key Track: ‘Suzanne And I’

Edwin McFee

Irish Scene Special In This Month’s Metal Hammer

6 04 2011

Yup, as the blatantly obvious headline suggests, this month there’s a shed-load of Irish acts profiled and interviewed in the new issue of Metal Hammer. As well as the Cruachan, Mourning Beloveth, From The Bogs Of Aughiska, Gacys Threads and Wreck Of The Hesperus pieces that I looked after, there’s also features on Primordial, Altar Of Plagues and more, so check it out if you get a chance.

The Beat Poets Q and A

6 04 2011

At the start of the 2011 I decided to do a monthly, year long Q and A with some of NI’s most promising bands for the Big List. Here’s one with the Beat Poets that ran a month or so ago. Expect more of these to be posted up in the weeks ahead!

The Beat Poets

This month we continue our year-long Q and A section with some of NI’s brightest hopes by catching up with one of the hardest working acts on the scene today-the Beat Poets. Enjoy.


First off, it’s just been announced you’re playing at this year’s Lark in the Park. The initial line-up already looks fantastic, how do you feel about being booked to perform on the bill?
John Dinsmore (vocals/guitar):
“It’s fantastic. Last year the bill was made up of local acts, so it’s a massive step this year booking headliners such as Athlete, Razorlight and Divine Comedy over three days. However, I think with local artists such as Cashier No.9 and Foy Vance on the bill the festival also promotes the best of what N.I has to offer too. It’s being held in a great location, so let’s hope the sun comes out that weekend and we kick off the festival season in style.”

You guys played the festival last year too, right?
“Yeah with General Fiasco headlining. It was a fantastic event and we really enjoyed the gig, atmosphere, location…so I really hope the big jump this year in size just adds to this.”

Do you have any other festival slots coming up in the pipe-line?
“We have the Temple House Music Festival coming up in October, which we played also last year with Damien Dempsey, The Stunning, Reef etc. It just won best new European Festival at the European Festival Awards and again is another fantastic new rising festival based in Sligo. We have a few more in Ireland provisionally sorted, but will be announcing them next month as our main aim this year is to get the band abroad for touring so we’re just seeing if we can be available to do them.”

John, you’re off to SXSW in Texas soon. How important is it for a band from NI to make the trip over?
“It depends on the act, sound and what you want from it. We feel our sound is well suited to the US and that’s why we keep pushing in this direction, but it’s a tough area to crack. Over the last few years our trips to SXSW have landed us placements on US shows such as the Hills and the Hard Times of RJ Berger, as well as endorsements with Sonicbids, Tascam and Mobile Roadie and now several other possible adventures are on the horizon too. We use it to push forward possibilities internationally (especially in US and Canada) and have been lucky enough to always come away with positive results. But months of preparation go into it (and years of effort) to really get the contacts in place to make things happen across the Atlantic. I’m hoping this year we can take it one more step further.”

We’ve read you’re planning on releasing a new EP down south. Can you tell us a little about that?
“In 2010 the releases did really well up North, but we felt that in the South we hadn’t the chance to properly push the same campaigns, so we are going to release an E.P with the tracks from 2010 (including ‘One By One’) to give the same songs a better push in the Republic. The musical landscape is extremely weird here for such a small island, with bands who are massive in the South virtually unknown in the North and visa versa. We found this something we too have to overcome being a Northern band pushing in the South and hope that releasing an EP targeted specifically for the South will help us breakdown this strange Irish music barrier.”

In terms of radio-play the last two singles have had a great reaction. How important do you think it is for your band to get the music out there on mainstream shows?
“I think all bands-no matter their sound-want as much exposure as possible. For us, day time radio is key and the massive exposure we had on Cool Fm, City Beat, U105 etc up North was fantastic and did so much to expand our fan base. This, added with the exposure on mainstream TV shows internationally, has been a major bonus to raising our profile as well as open doors to new possibilities. These days, with so many bands out there working so hard to get mainstream placements, our success has made us feel that we’re at least doing something right. With no major label pushing us we constantly find the odds for show placement, good gigs, international showcases are stacked heavily against us, but the old working class fight inside means we never give up and when we do get the breaks it means so much more to us.”

We loved the video for ‘Gravity.’ Can you tell us a little bit about the filming?
“Yeah we were delighted with it too! It was directed and written by Marty Stalker of Scattered Images with Rick Trainor from Red Sky Photography adding his director of photography touches. I think it captured the essence of the tune brilliantly and the footage of the band playing on the roof looked fantastic. We shot it just before the release and it was bloody freezing the day we recorded the roof scenes, but it wouldn’t be art if you didn’t suffer for it!”

Finally, how’s the album coming along and what’s the plans for the year ahead? Can you give us any exclusives?
“The album or the holy grail?! It’s definitely been a long road for us in getting together the album. I feel like Brian Wilson somedays when talking about it! It’s been tough because we have went through several sound changes in the space of a few years and are only now happy with what we feel is the sound we want. We also want to make sure we have a good selection of tracks to choose from with this style of sound, so we will be recording again over the next few months and we’re about half way through finishing the whole thing. At the minute we have provisional plans to release and tour in South East Asia, Australia and Canada. We feel that we really need to hit new territories that would fit in with our sound. It’s all coming together nicely but as you can imagine being an independent act on our own self-release label, an incredible amount of planning  as well as long hours are currently being spent shaping this, so hopefully we’ll confirm some positive news in early March before SXSW.”

The Beat Poets play the Lark in the Park festival in Moria on May 1. For more information on the event visit and for more info on the band check out

Hammer Of Hate Label Profile

5 04 2011

Here’s a reprint of the Hammer Of Hate round-up I did for Metal Hammer.

The Rest in Pieces

Hammer of Hate

Formed by the fantastically named Impaler Von Bastard in 2005, the loud and proud Sacrilegious Impalement might have only just got around to releasing their debut Cultus Nex [7] this month, but it is a seriously brutal slab of brimstone. Boasting meaty riffs and ear-battering death metal vocals, the record is recommended for fans of Hellhammer and Bathory.

Sielunmessu [5] by Vitsaus is an album that has been years in the making, though you’d never guess it when you listen to all five tracks on this run of the mill, unengaging black metal offering. Conjured up by duo Inho and Vainaja, the record is a typically icy, badly produced affair that is by no means the misanthropic masterpiece they were hoping for. Still, the (whisper it) jaunty rhythm and spiky riffs of ‘Ylosnousemus’ proves that they can give us the odd surprise when they want, but unfortunately those moments are few and far between.

Talking of surprises, bum-baring black metal banshee Possessed Demoness has delivered a truly tortured and twisted collection of threnodies under the Anguished moniker and her debut Cold [8] proves that the genre isn’t just a club for boys. Performing everything herself (bar the drums) the record tells tales of sex, Satanism and suicide and sees the multi-instrumentalist deliver a heroic vocal performance that ranges from pain-inflicted shrieks to more mournful and melodic musical passages. Gripping stuff.

Russia’s Evangelivm are Hammer of Hate’s first signings that don’t hail from Finland and their debut Nightside Of Eden [7] aims to “poison the world with the wisdom of the ancient serpent” (we’re guessing they must have really loved Nigel Havers on I’m a Celebrity then). Comprising of six tracks, the mysterious duo have created a menacing piece of work that really takes off when the raise the tempo.

Made up of anonymous band members, Beelzebub’s B.F.F.s Valoton’s debut Beastificate [7] is an aggressive aural assault brimming with hellfire and venom that might put traditional black metal fans’ noses out of joint due to their penchant for death and thrash elements, but the rest of you will love this thrilling, pro-Satan slab of wax.

Edwin McFee

News From The North 75

4 04 2011

As some folk may already know, for the last three years I’ve written a column in Hot Press devoted to covering bands from Northern Ireland. Here’s one of the more recent missives…


Words: Edwin McFee

It’s “new release” fortnight up here in the north at the moment and it seems as if everyone has something to flog. So, without further ado, let’s get to it. First up, Belfast’s decidedly modish four-piece the Vals are preparing to unveil a brand new double A-side single (‘Look To The One/Emily O’). Featuring the inimitable Mr Henry McCullough (formerly of Wings) the slab of wax is penciled in for an early May date, so get saving your pennies now. The band will no doubt be off on another European festival jaunt this summer and we’ll of course keep you posted.

Next up, if, like this writer, you enjoy a bit of action in the squared circle (I swear that isn’t half as dirty as it looks on paper) then you’ll want to check out the new video for the Bonnevilles’ latest salvo of sleazy blues punk ‘Good Suits And Fightin’ Boots,’ which features some Mexican style Lucha Libre wrestling. Made by the hugely imaginative filmmaker Sean Duncan (AKA Red Cap Productions the clip and single are available on April 7. The band also play a launch gig that night in the Menagerie, Belfast and well worth checking out it is too.

A Plastic Rose (another of Mr Duncan’s previous conquests spookily enough) are planning to still go ahead will the launch gig for their latest mini album The Promise Notes on March 31 despite being stuck down with an illness that forced them to cut short their recent UK tour. Featuring a sterling line-up consisting of Axis Of and Colenso Parade, the action kicks off in the Limelight, Belfast and fingers crossed they’ll have kicked whatever ails them by then. In the meantime, you can catch Red Cap Productions video for ‘Oceans’ via this very link

Recent signings to the near mythic rock label Metal Blade Records, Darkest Era release their new album The Last Caress Of Light on March 26 and play a launch gig in the Limelight, Belfast that evening. Kicking off at 5pm, it’s £5 in and also on the bill are Sirocco and Sorrowfall. Darkest Era’s sound is a sabre-rattling blend of Lizzy and Maiden and the few tracks we’ve heard from their debut are pulse-racing power metal anthems, so expect big things. For more on the Enniskillen/Belfast mob, check out

Finally, we’d like to offer a quick congratulations to Two Door Cinema Club who scooped the Choice Music Prize. As regular readers of the column will know, I’ve championed them for years, so I’m especially pleased to see them get the recognition they deserve. From little acorns…

Dukatalon Interview

2 04 2011

Here’s a reprint of an interview I did with Isreal’s Dukatalon for Metal Hammer. Their album is ace. You should check it out if the power of the riff compells you.



Recorded over a period of three days and adhering to a strict penny-pinching budget, Israeli psychedelic sludge metal troop Dukatalon’s debut release Saved By Fear is a monstrously heavy opus that sees the four-piece relish being “the square pegs in a round hole” in their country’s metal scene. However, while the trio love plowing their own path at home, they’ve also got their sights set on conquering the world at large as singer/guitarist Zafrir Tzori explains.

“Most of the metal heads in Israel are not into the kind of metal that we do. There are some good heavy bands that we love to play with live, but that’s about it. We really love our local crowd, but getting big inside of Israel was never our goal. We always put our efforts to get to as many people in the world.”

 Signing to Relapse Records over the summer of 2010 will of course help their campaign no end, and hiring esteemed knob twiddler Billy Anderson (who has worked with the likes of Sleep and Eyehategod in the past) to give Saved By Fear an extra polish turned out to be a master-stroke.

 “We always wanted to work with Billy and I have known him for a while. We kinda wanted to get the heaviest sound out of extremely vintage gear and I think we achieved that.”

“We had so many influences when we were making the record,” continues Zafrir. “We wanted it to be heavy, but still keep the old school and psychedelic vibe. We’re always inspired by mystic stuff and we wanted it to be heard on the album too. Musically speaking, bands like Saint Vitus, Entombed and High On Fire (as well as other metal, hardcore and 60s and 70s psychedelic acts) influenced us for this record. As a band we couldn’t be happier with the final result.”



Zafrir Tzori (vocals, guitar), Yariv Shilo (Drums), Lior Mayer (bass).


A thrilling mix of sludge and stoner, with a side order of 70s era psychedelia thrown in for good measure.


Saved By Fear (Relapse Records, 2010)


The Hold Steady At The Spring & Airbrake Review

1 04 2011

As promised, for the next few days I’m gonna post up some reprints of different features/reviews/oddities I’ve done over the last few months. I like to keep things as varied as possible (hence why you’ll get features on black metal and the X Factor sitting side by side) so if you don’t have an open mind (and you don’t appreciate a good Vanessa Feltz joke) then skip on to something else.

Speaking of metal, next week sees the publication of some interviews I’m very proud of…but will blog about that once it’s released…

In the meantime, here’s a review of the recent show by the Hold Steady in Belfast that ran in Hot Press a few weks ago.

The Hold Steady at the Spring and Airbrake, Belfast

Touring in support of their fifth slab of wax Heaven Is Whenever, the crowd tonight for Brooklyn-based barroom rockers the Hold Steady looks a little bit like a group father and son outing gone wrong. On one hand we’ve got the older gents who are more than likely charmed by the headliner’s similarity to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty during their pop rock 70s pomp and on the other we’ve got the younger ones who are probably experiencing the band’s brand of righteous rock ‘n’ roll for the first time live and in person. And yes, while this evening’s performance is a total dude-fest, there’s no question that the show’s going to be something special whatever your age bracket now that the boys are back in town again.

Kicking off with ‘Positive Jam,’ their sound is somewhat meatier than it has been since the last time we saw them (probably due to spending a lifetime on the road) but that’s no bad thing as it backs up frontman Craig Finn’s punk rock preacher man schtick perfectly as he tells us stories of romance and religion. Playing a selection of tracks culled from all five of their records, the likes of ‘Rock Problems’ and ‘Hurricane J’ raise the roof off the place. But that’s not to say that the Hold Steady can’t channel their inner jukebox Romeo every now and again and the swooning ‘We Can Get Together’ proves that the band has a brain (and more importantly a heart) behind all the bravado.

“It’s been eight years since we started this band,” concludes Hold Steady head honcho Finn from the stage of the beyond busy Spring and Airbrake, “and I have to say it’s the greatest job I’ve ever had.” And yes, while those words may seem a little hokey on paper, it’s hard to argue with the sentiment. As they sign of with the life affirming ‘Stay Positive’ and ‘Southtown Girls,’ it’s as clear as the inside of an empty whiskey bottle that tonight the frontman and his band gave it everything they’ve got to prove that nice guys don’t always finish last and we wouldn’t have expected any less of them. Top stuff.

Edwin McFee